Yearb Med Inform 2015; 24(01): 160-163
DOI: 10.15265/IY-2015-032
Original Article
Georg Thieme Verlag KG Stuttgart

Health Social Media and Patient-Centered Care: Buzz or Evidence?

Findings from the Section “Education and Consumer Health Informatics” of the 2015 Edition of the IMIA Yearbook
P. Staccini
1  INSERM UMR 912 SESSTIM, IRIS Dept, UFR Médecine, Université Nice-Sophia Antipolis, France
L. Fernandez-Luque
2  Northern Research Institute, Tromsø, Norway
Section Editors for the IMIA Yearbook Section on Education and Consumer Health Informatics› Author Affiliations
Further Information

Publication History

13 August 2015

Publication Date:
10 March 2018 (online)


Objective: To summarize the 2014 state of the art in the areas related to consumer health informatics and social media.

Methods: We conducted a systematic review of articles published in 2014 in PubMed with a predefined set of queries. We identified 439 articles relevant for the review. The two section editors independently screened those papers taking into account their relevance to the topics covered by the section. In a second step, they jointly selected the 20 most representative papers as candidate best papers. Candidate best papers were then submitted for full review and scoring by external reviewers. Based on the scoring, section editors together with the IMIA Yearbook editorial board selected the four best papers published in 2014 in consumer health informatics.

Results: Helping patients acquire a healthier lifestyle is a crucial part of patient empowerment. In this line of work, new studies are exploring the efficacy of online health interventions for patient behavioral change. The special case of smoking cessation for consumers with low socio-economic status is particularly noticeable. Another study has explored how an online intervention can reduce the anxiety of women who experience an abnormal mammography. The team of PatientsLikeMe has studied how online support groups could play a role in the quality of life of organ transplant recipients. The patient perspective of online forums’ users is also analyzed in the domain of anticoagulation therapy.

Conclusions: Online health interventions, many of them using social media, have confirmed their potential to impact consumer behavioral change. However, there are still many methodological issues that need to be addressed in order to prove cost-effectiveness.